Breathing The Art of Simplicity

It was too complex for me. And that’s saying a lot considering I’m a Borg.


About two years ago, I woke up in a cold sweat thinking: I’m overloaded! At the time I was teaching online classes monthly, selling digital templates, and offering a weekly video show at 3 different websites. With three different systems and three different sets of deadlines which required three different brains. Two more then I actually have — I checked.

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Our Lives with Sensory Processing Disorder

Our Life with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) Part 1

I knew Chaddy was different the moment he was born. It was his scream — the blood-curdling wail that blared out of his mouth the moment he popped out. He didn’t cry; he was an alarm. The kind you hear at 3 am in the morning. And it woke my soul up.

I could hear him meters down the passageway when the maternity nurses rolled him towards my room. That’s how intense he was! But he was my gorgeous little guy. And I had already loved him for many days.

Fast forward 3 months later. Chaddy didn’t sleep and he didn’t eat. Strike that. He did sleep but only after 2 consistent hours of rocking back and forth while I paced around my living room in circles. When he finally nodded off, I’d place him ever-so-gently on his stomach in the crib. Basically, everything experts say not to do.

Yeah, I did it. So he and I could sleep. Barely.

My dear sister and brother-in-law gifted Chaddy with a swing when he turned 4 months and life was finally grand! He slept through the night but he had to constantly swing. The moment he stopped was the moment he woke. Oh goodness, I cherished his swing; my heart broke when he outgrew it.

He was always in the 10th percentile yet he ate and ate! Nothing ever stayed down though because he had horrible acid reflux. I never found the right combination of foods to help his food stay put even after eliminating many-a-food from my diet and his when he started solids.

Between the sleeping and the eating, a warning bell formed in mind: something is … different.

Certainly not wrong. But different.

Friends and family would ask us to visit and stay over. And I would feel nervous. Because he put up such a humongous fuss.

Trips became tough. Car rides turned into short jaunts to the store and back — nothing else! Anything and everything seemed to upset him. Especially noise. And no amount of consoling helped.

The hardest part was the feeling that no one understood. And it lasted for the first two years of his life.

I’m happy to report that life has gotten somewhat better for my amazing son! But not after some very trying times for him and experiences that really tested my resolve as a parent. Not with him, of course, but with others as I tried to understand just what was exactly different about my special little guy.

In Part II, we’ll go to daycare and learn about the teacher who I almost put in a headlock.

How to Mist with Brushes & Embellishments

Oh The Places You Will Go … With Brushes

The Digital Scrapbooker’s Guide to Brushwork is in it’s 3rd week over at Scrapaneers and we’re hot in heavy into artistic painting and scanning for digital brushes. It’s one of my favorite parts of class because I’ve asked students to unlock their inner designer diva and paint random strokes with watercolor and acrylics. Then I show how to scan and photograph each, digitize, alter, and save all for their brush-inspired projects next week.

And It’s the only module we spend less time with pixels and more time with old fashioned paints and canvas.

We also learn how to repurpose other digital embellishments as brushes too, a nifty trick I’ve used for years! Let me show you what I mean:

First, you start with an embellishment nicely shadowed and positioned just so.


Then you apply some digital misting — Tiffany style, of course.


Next you add some text with a brush offset, add additional brushes (for filler) and continue to mist oh so eloquently.


And the final piece goes a little something like this:


The image by its self would look fabulous as a blog header, a title for a layout, shoot — even the front of a card!

But the entire image takes less than 2 – 3 minutes to create, you just have to know how! And if you DON’T know how but really want to, head on over and join me plus all the other students who are learning how to build dramatic digital brushwork RIGHT NOW!

We Got Married!

Guess What? We Got Married!

So we up and did it! We jumped the broom. Tied the knot. Blazed the trails. Skinned the chicken. Ate the fish.

You get it!

CJ and I got married! And officially I am Mrs. Tiffany Emanuel. Though the Tillman may stick around (at least online) until my official name is recognizable.


I’m stoked! Excited. Happy. Geeked. And I have newlywed brain because I can’t seem to recall which day it is or where I’ve placed the most important things around the house. I swear I’ve lost my wallet somewhere in the house everyday last week and Chaddy’s coat is STILL missing. Who does that?

No matter. I’m blessed. Because my man — well he’s indescribable. I’ll try any way.

He’s a genuine, good-hearted person who would give you the shirt off his back if you were cold AND lift your spirits with a joke while you put his shirt own. He’s kind, strong, looks for the best out of life. He’s not afraid to cry. He likes animals, children, and he changes poopy diapers. He doesn’t play an instrument, but he absolutely loves his mom and family.

Actually, I quoted a bit of Groundhog Day but it still works.

He’s the kind of person you know you could spend the rest of your life with.

The kids truly adore him. You’d never know he’d missed a day of their live when you watch them with him.

And I love the heck out of him.


We originally planned our wedding day for May 4th of 2015. Because that’s Star Wars Day — may the 4th be with you — and it’s an important day for Star Wars geeks the world around. Including us! But we decided to jump the gun early but still plan our reception and honeymoon for May.

We opted to visit the JOP (justice of the peace) and the dude who married us was an extremely funny retired police officer who told jokes. When he read our vows though, his voiced changed from a deep and velvety bass to a soft and breathy sigh. I couldn’t keep a straight face because of it! So, CJ and I winked at each other and traded silly faces until it was time to say our “I Will’s”.

There were no flowers, no cake, no fluffy white doves or a limo. Just two people, sharing their love, and solidifying their commitment as life long partners.

How to Build a Custom List of Color Swatches

How to Build a Custom List of Color Swatches

What’s up world! Today’s Q&A video is pretty awesome because it uncovers a tool — well Panel — we so often use but forget it’s there. It’s like a lightbulb — you turn it on and off all the time and don’t think about it until it dims. Well this panel is just like a lightbulb. And now, we’re going to crack it open, safely, and see what’s inside.

Yup, I’m talking about the Color Swatch panel. The Color Swatch panel includes a variety of customizations and special tricks that can make life pretty easy — if you know how to manage it. And today, I’m going to show you how to build a custom list of color swatches and how to Pimp That Color Panel.

Yeah, I said wrote it!

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Closing the Template Shop at Pixels & Company

Have you heard of the PC game: Civilization 5? Civilization has been one of my favorite series of games since I was an old teenager. (Before Civilization it was Populace — if you’ve been around that long and know what a rotary phone is).

I digress.

I’m a super-dork-geek for games that pair maps with town/kingdom/society management. So Civilization 5 and it’s predecessors have been my go-to games for almost two decades!

Because I live for uncharted maps!

The idea of moving my Scouts (or insert some special unit here) delights me. Finding new areas to settle (or avoid) or meeting a new civilization to trade resources, technology, or quite possibly war with entertains me. Because each new turn in the game requires a different kind of management or scenario that requires my full attention. Because it’s uncharted.

Life, to me, is just like that game.

Last year, I closed my template shop briefly and then returned shortly thereafter with the idea that I could manage both Scrapaneers and building templates on the regular.

That was my hope, my goal, my every intention.

But it wasn’t meant to be.

After a long period of soul-searching, monitoring how much time everything I do takes and what I would have to sacrifice to continue designing on a regular (like weekend time with  my kids), I knew it was time to close up the template shop at Pixels & Company.

P&C0. is filled with an amazing amount of talented designers and digital enthusiasts whom I’ve come to know as friends. And while I’ll miss them dearly, I know this is absolute best decision for me right now.

While I will move a few of my favorite sets over here and offer them through my own shop, I want to turn my talent in a new direction with a focus on Scrapaneers and helping others digital scrapbook better — using templates too!

So, will templates be involved in this “new direction” thing? Darn tooting! And I can elaborate more … when the time comes of course.

But like most aspects of life, and Civilization games, change happens. It’s up to us to listen to our heart, our desires, even our fears, and let each guide us to uncharted areas on our life map. These uncharted spaces of life is where we can invent (or reinvent) and adjust (readjust) our world.

And map a new horizon.

I Stripped Nude. Thankfully, I’m Dressed Again

Well hello. Welcome to the new, and hopefully improved, Simply Tiffany Studios!

My vision for updating the site started at least 6 months ago. I wanted to re-organize all of the articles, tutorials, interviews et al so you, my dear reader, could easily locate the digital solution best for you. Because you want what’s right for you — right? Of course.

So, I reached out to G of Lilac Creative, developer of the P&Co. site, Sweet Shoppe and many more around digi land, and asked her to lay her professional hands on my 10 year old baby. Because sometimes it takes a new teacher to discipline an old baby.

G stripped me, rather the site, naked. Rebranded my logo, helped me capture my inner simplicity, and reorganize all the ish I had laying around. The entire experience from start to finish has been fun, rather sensual, and now a relief. Because I’m finally clothed in attire that looks really good on me.

I’m no longer naked wearing the Emperor’s New Clothes.

And G was amazing!

That sounded kinky. But it wasn’t. Sadly.

Some of the changes you’ll find rather satisfying:

And, I believe, a cool aesthetic for website design.

With the new digs finished, I get to concentrate on what you enjoy watching more: kick-butt digital scrapbooking videos! I really miss the weekly video series and answering all of your tips too.

And that’s the haps folks. For those of you who’ve hung around as I watched my world turn upside and right again this year with my son, founding Scrapaneers, and refocusing my efforts here back home, thank you. I really appreciate all of your comments, emails, warmth and cheers from across the digi-sphere.

Many of you have shared that the commenting system just ain’t working yet. We’ll get that fixed (hopefully soon) and report back when it’s working. Thank you for just reading and if you want to connect, hit me up on Facebook!


How to Blend a Pattern Into a Background Using Brushes

What’s up homies! You know, I carry around a large bag of digital tricks. It’s the best kind of baggage to have because it doesn’t weight you down or wake you up in the middle. A digital trick bag only says, “Use me.” And why would you deny that request?

I digress.

One of the best tools in the digital trick bag is the Brush tool! Known for wiping away pixel messes (or creating them), the brushes and the Brush tool offers so much more than regular stamps and paints for paper crafters. Because we can infuse our brush strokes with the normal color or the abnormal text, gradient, pattern, photo, texture, lighting effect, filter, adjustment, or mask.

And I’ve probably forgotten a few others! That’s a ton of options, don’t you think?

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Project Life | Disney Vacation Album

Four score and seven years ago, make that 5.6 years ago, I took my first step inside of Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Had a fabulous time if you take away all the hours we spent standing in line.

Some of our most magical moments included:

  • Riding on a float during the Animal Kingdom parade,
  • Crush (from Nemo) calling out Lita by saying the girl with the purple shell and afropuffs on her head.
  • The best steak I’ve tasted at Le Cellier.
  • And all the moments Lita’s eyes lit up from magic.

We so enjoyed our vacation. I snapped thousands of photos. And it was our first family vacation. A trip like that deserved an amazing album, you know!

But I couldn’t piece one together. I was unable to revisit the photos and the project because shortly after our trip, my ex-husband and I separated. And that trip became associated with a time of pain and loss and a world that didn’t/couldn’t exist ever again.

I kept asking my self: why? Why should I finish it? Why should I care? Why should we celebrate?

After some soul-searching and the passage of time, I was able to answer.

Why should I finish it? Why should I care? Why should we celebrate? 

Because it’s not about you.

It’s about her.

My daughter.

I didn’t take the trip just to cross Disney World off my bucket list.

I planned and scheduled and waited in long lines because I wanted to watch my daughter experience magical moments that only a 5 year old could.

So my album is her album. Her family. Her good times.

Not all mine.

And so over the summer, I finished that album. Here are some of my favorite pages:

Disney World Vacation Album

Disney World Vacation Album

Disney World Vacation Album

Disney World Vacation Album

Disney World Vacation Album

Disney World Vacation Album


The rest of the layouts are in my Disney Vacation Album. I feel so much joy having now finished and excited to send them over to Persnickety Prints. They’ll have them printed and delivered later this week, which means I can give the album FINALLY to my daughter. Five years later. But with tons of love.

And closure for me.

All of my layouts use templates from the Window System Templates, which is now offered in .PAGE and .PNG formats! And 99% of the digital papers and elements are part of Sahlin Studios Project Mouse collection.

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